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Montesquieu and the Logic of Liberty: War, Religion, Commerce, Climate, Terrain, Technology, Uneasiness of Mind, the Spirit of Political Vigilance, and the Foundations of the Modern Republic 1st Edition

5.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0300141252
ISBN-10: 0300141254
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Editorial Reviews


“This is an extremely erudite, impressive work of scholarship.  It is…convincingly argued. It brings together detailed readings of Montesquieu ...a command of the historical context in which they wrote, and a sensibility to the literary challenges and requirements of such an understanding.”—Michael Gibbons, University of South Florida
(Michael Gibbons)

"Montesquieu and the Logic of Liberty has put the term to that question of Montesquieu the secular modernist. It is a compelling and masterful work, in which Paul Rahe has completely conceptualized the contemporary discourse in the form of a comprehensive interpretation of Montesquieu, graced with elegant historical awareness, and a compelling defense of its continuing relevance. This is a must read!"—W. B. Allen, author of Rethinking Uncle Tom: The Political Philosophy of H. B. Stowe
(W. B. Allen)

“Erudite, nuanced and provocative.  This is a powerful book that will make a lasting impression. Rahe presents a daring new interpretation suggesting Montesquieu’s lack of confidence in monarchy’s future.  He also focuses on previously ignored texts that elucidate Montesquieu's motives in all three of his major works.  A must read for anyone interested in French and English constitutional history and in the prospects for liberty in modern, republican regimes.”— David W. Carrithers, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
(David W. Carrithers)

"Rahe's explanations are well written and clearly laid out."—Dan Edelstein, American Historical Review
(Dan Edelstein American Historical Review)

About the Author

The author of Soft Despotism, Democracy’s Drift, Paul A. Rahe holds the Charles O. Lee and Louise K. Lee Chair in the Western Heritage at Hillsdale College.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press; 1st edition (September 22, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300141254
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300141252
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,531,920 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By George Greene VINE VOICE on January 12, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have previously reviewed Professor Rahe's companion volume, Soft Depotism, which is actually the sequal to this book. Each volume can be read independently of each other.

Again, Professor Rahe has written an elegant book. Though he is trained as a historian, he has a keen eye for the political philosophic, so this reading of Montesquieu is not of an antiquarian interest.

The primary focus of this book is Montesquieu's Spirit of the Laws. Professor Rahe though seems to know the entire corpus of Montesquieu. He is able to flesh out the hints and allusions that Montesquieu makes. He demonstrates how Montesquieu wrote carefully so that he would not suffer in the manner Voltaire did with his English Letters. He demonstrates how England was really a commercial republic in the disguise of a monarchy.

It is a worthwhile read in itself. It also serves as the beginning of Rahe's argument concerning the trajectory of the modern republic which leads in his opinion to soft despotism, the administrative state, as described by Tocqueville. For those interested in one of the foundations of American political philosophy in connection with the U.S. Constitution, this is as good a place to start as any. (This book however does not discuss how the founders read him.)

If you like Montesquieu, I also recommend Diana Schaub's close reading of the Persian Letters entitled Erotic Liberalism. It can also be purchased through Amazon.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Any book by Paul Rahe is worth reading. He is the exception to the rule in scholarly writing. This book is highly researched and well documented but also a pleasure to read. People who are interested in Montesquieu's political thought or in the American founding and the ideas behind it will want to read this book.
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